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OIL PRICES SURGE ON CHINESE IMPORT BOOST AND MIDEAST TENSIONS

Oil prices firmed on Friday as bullish news from strong Chinese oil imports to turmoil in the Middle East put Brent on track for a more than 3 percent weekly gain.

The developments added to other signs that the market was finally rebalancing after years of excess.

Brent LCOc1 was at $57.42 at 1139 GMT, up $1.17. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was at $51.59 per barrel, up 99 cents from its last settlement. The contracts were on track for weekly gains of more than 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Chinese oil imports hit 9 million barrels per day (bpd) in September, data showed on Friday. Imports averaged 8.5 million bpd between January and September, solidifying China’s position as the world’s biggest oil importer.

“We woke up with the strong data from China. That’s on the supportive side,” said Olivier Jakob, managing director of PetroMatrix.

China’s huge imports have been strongly driven by purchases for its strategic petroleum reserves (SPR). The nation has spent around $24 billion on building its crude reserves since 2015 and now holds around 850 million barrels of oil in inventory, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Unrest in Iraq, and possible US action on the Iran nuclear deal, also underpinned prices.

On Friday, local television reported that tens of thousands of Kurdish fighters had deployed in the Kirkuk oil region to confront possible “threats” from Iraqi forces.

Tensions between the two, which traders fear could cut off oil exports from the region, have been building since Iraq’s Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence in a Sept. 25 vote.

SUGAR RATES SLIP ON AMPLE STOCKS

Sugar prices fell by Rs25 per quintal at the wholesale market on ample stock position on constant supplies amidst slackened buying by stockists and bulk consumers. Market men said mounting stocks in the market following non-stop supplies from mills amid muted buying by stockists as well as bulk consumers, led to fall in sweetener prices.

Sugar ready M-30 and S-30 prices weakened by Rs20 each to end the day at Rs3,950-4,100 and Rs3,940-4,090 per quintal. Sugar Mill delivery M-30 and S-30 prices also traded lower by 15 each to Rs3,615-3,825 and Rs3,605-3,815 per quintal. In the mill gate section, sugar Asmoli, Thanabhavan, Dorala, Khatuli and Sakoti all declined by Rs20 each to conclude at Rs3,810, Rs3,750, Rs3,770, Rs3,805 and Rs3,730 per quintal.

FCA SETS WHEAT PRODUCTION TARGET AT 26.46M TONS

The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) has fixed the next year production target for wheat at 26.46 million tons on an area of 8.95 million hectares. The meeting, which was presided over by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, was informed that sugarcane production for 2017-18 had been estimated at 81.4 million tons from an area of 1.312 million hectares.

The rice production for 2017-18 was estimated at 7.3 million tons from an area of 2.88 million hectares. The maize production for 2017-18 was estimated at 5.3 million tons from an area of 1.24 million hectares. It was noted that the country achieved self-sufficiency, rather exportable surplus in major crops by surpassing the targets both in terms of area under cultivation and production. The meeting was called to review the Kharif crops and production plan for Rabi (2017-18).

COPPER PRICES MOVE UP IN NEW YORK

Comex copper prices saw extended buying on Wednesday in the USA with Chinese investors providing a boost for the complex. Copper for December settlement on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 2.25 cents or 0.7% to $3.0830 per lb.

Since Chinese investors returned from the Golden Week holiday on Monday, prices for the red metal have experienced a big boost. However, many will likely await the decisions of the Communist Party Congress meeting next week in Beijing on infrastructure spending, stimulus plans and so on.

“We remain bullish for copper’s fundamentals but prices started to look overstretched when they approached $7,000 per tonne,” Metal Bulletin senior analyst William Adams said. “They have since corrected on some profit-taking, but the dip has been well supported.”

In the precious metals space, Comex gold for December delivery dipped $1.50 or 0.1% to $1,292.30 per oz.

POLISHED DIAMOND PRICES DECLINE BY 2.6PC

Polished diamond prices have plummeted ahead of Diwali festival with traders in Surat and Mumbai clearing their inventories offering huge discounts.

The US-based Rapaport Group has estimated that the diamond prices witnessed a sharp decline of 0.70 percent to 2.6 percent in the month of September in different categories of polished diamonds. However, major decline in prices was witnessed in the 50 cent diamonds followed by 1.6 percent in 30 cent diamonds. Rough diamond prices on dealer market and at auctions were down in September as trading slowed ahead of the Diwali festival.

CHILE EXPECTS MODERATE INCREASE IN COPPER PRICE

World top copper producer Chile expects a moderate increase in the annual average price of the metal through the remainder of 2017, but that would not be enough to push it above $3 a pound for the entire year, Mining Minister Aurora Williams quoted as saying on Wednesday. The price of copper has risen dramatically in recent months on strong demand from China, the top consumer of the metal. The sharp increase bodes well for the South American nation, where depending on prices copper-related activity can account for up to 15 percent of gross domestic product.

The Chilean Copper Commission predicted an average price of $2.64 per pound for the year, slightly below the average to date of $2.71 per pound.

TEA RATES IN CY2017 SUPPORTED BY REDUCED AVAILABILITY GLOBALLY

Global tea production is likely to record a decline in CY2017, primarily on the back of crop losses in Kenya, which accounts for around 16 per cent of the total black tea production globally.

Given Kenya’s status as one of the world’s largest exporters of black tea, production levels from the country are likely to have a considerable impact on global demand-supply dynamics for the year. The Sri Lankan crop levels, which contribute to around 10 per cent of global tea production, are also low.

SWISS FLUSHING AWAY MILLIONS IN GOLD AND SILVER YEARLY

While London’s sewers can get clogged with fatbergs made up of grease and diapers, it seems Switzerland’s waste system is flecked with silver and gold.

Researchers last year detected 3 tons of silver and 43 kg of gold in effluent and sludge from waste water treatment plants — amounting to around 3 million Swiss francs ($3.1 million). But before people start hunting in their drains for jewellery, the government study said the tiny particles were likely to be mostly from the watchmaking, pharmaceuticals and chemical industries, which use the metals in their products and processes.

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